Drive Electric Colorado is Getting the State Ready for the EV Revolution

December 21, 2021

Electric vehicles are still a small percentage of the overall automotive picture in Colorado, but the numbers are growing steadily

Elec­tric vehi­cles are still a small per­cent­age of the over­all auto­mo­tive pic­ture in Colorado—around 6% of all vehi­cles on the road, by a recent count but the num­bers are grow­ing steadi­ly. And while some con­sumers are pas­sion­ate and knowl­edge­able about EVs—their inter­est dri­ven by every­thing from high gas prices to supe­ri­or per­for­mance to coun­ter­ing the effects of cli­mate change—others need a push to take them from the mild­ly inter­est­ed stage to actu­al­ly get­ting behind the wheel of an EV.

Enter Dri­ve Elec­tric Col­orado, an ini­tia­tive designed to edu­cate con­sumers and deal­ers about EVs. A project of the non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion Dri­ve Clean Col­orado, Dri­ve Elec­tric Col­orado kicked off in Octo­ber 2020, fund­ed in part by a grant from the U.S. Depart­ment of Energy.

“The grant itself is called Dri­ve Elec­tric USA, and there are 17 states now that are part of the Dri­ve Elec­tric USA pro­gram,” says Bon­nie Trow­bridge, exec­u­tive direc­tor of Dri­ve Elec­tric Col­orado. “We have these statewide pro­grams, and we’re learn­ing from one anoth­er and try­ing to accel­er­ate aware­ness of elec­tric vehi­cles in our states. It’s not just about the cars; it’s about the peo­ple and the poli­cies and the roads and the util­i­ties and clean ener­gy and all of that kind of thing, bring­ing it all together.”

The organization’s web­site,, is a clear­ing­house of infor­ma­tion about EVs for con­sumers and deal­ers, cov­er­ing every­thing from tax rebates and oth­er finan­cial incen­tives avail­able to EV own­ers to what an elec­tric vehi­cle dri­ver needs to know about charg­ing their vehicle.

For instance, EVs can be charged at home by sim­ply being plugged in to a stan­dard elec­tri­cal out­let, but a “lev­el 2” charg­er, like the one a clothes dry­er plugs into, will charge the vehi­cle even faster—a total charge in three to five hours vs. 12 hours for a stan­dard out­let. Lev­el 2 charg­ers can be eas­i­ly installed by a licensed electrician.

“Most peo­ple are going to charge in their garage, but if you don’t have a garage, if your apart­ment com­plex or con­do doesn’t offer charg­ing, there are grants avail­able in Col­orado for that,” Trow­bridge says. “We want to talk with peo­ple who need charg­ing in their park­ing lots, whether it’s at their work­place or their apart­ment, because we can help get that mon­ey to those peo­ple so the charg­ers are more available.”

The need for EVs

The Col­orado Elec­tric Vehi­cle Plan 2020, a roadmap cre­at­ed by the Col­orado Ener­gy Office (CEO), out­lines the need for more zero-emis­sion vehi­cles on state roads: The trans­porta­tion sec­tor is now the largest source of green­house gas emis­sions in Col­orado, con­tribut­ing to air pol­lu­tion and cli­mate change effects such as drought, wild­fires and raised aver­age tem­per­a­tures. Increas­ing the num­ber of EVs in Col­orado will not only have envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits, the report finds, but finan­cial ben­e­fits as well. An increase in EVs could low­er util­i­ty bills for cus­tomers across the board, and EV own­ers would see addi­tion­al cost sav­ings from reduced fuels and main­te­nance costs.

And while of course the elec­tric­i­ty used to charge those vehi­cles comes from a grid that is still large­ly pow­ered by coal, Trow­bridge points out that nat­ur­al gas, solar and wind pow­er are an ever-increas­ing part of the ener­gy mix in Colorado.

“Even elec­tric vehi­cles that are pow­ered sole­ly from coal pow­er sources are still clean­er than gaso­line vehi­cles because they’re more effi­cient,” she says. “Most of the emis­sions that come from vehi­cles come from tailpipes and from the tires. Tire emis­sions aren’t car­bon emis­sions, but being able to address that 100% of that tailpipe emis­sions is important.”

Nis­san LEAF lease by Tynan's Nis­san in Aurora

An ambitious plan

The Col­orado Ener­gy Office has an ambi­tious goal of 940,000 EVs on the road by 2030, more than 20 times the 42,000 cur­rent­ly reg­is­tered. And that num­ber doesn’t count pure hybrids, only vehi­cles that plug into the wall. Those can be 100% elec­tric vehi­cles, also known as bat­tery elec­tric vehi­cles (BEVs), such as the Nis­san LEAF, Chevy Bolt, and all Tes­la vehi­cles, or plug-in hybrid elec­tric vehi­cles (PHEVs) that use elec­tric­i­ty as the pri­ma­ry pow­er source but have inter­nal com­bus­tion engines as a back-up option. Exam­ples include the Chevy Volt and Toy­ota Prius Prime.

It’s a goal that’s a lot eas­i­er in Col­orado, a state already known for its envi­ron­men­tal con­scious­ness. Per­haps not sur­pris­ing­ly, Col­orado also is home to the country’s No. 1 Nis­san LEAF deal­er, Tynan’s Auto Group. Markus Kamm, the dealership’s direc­tor of sales, says that when they first began sell­ing LEAFs in 2012, he and the Tynan’s own­ers were on a mis­sion to raise aware­ness, going to every ride-and-dri­ve and press event they could. Today, it’s a dif­fer­ent story.

“Demand is sky-high,” he says. “We’re get­ting prob­a­bly 10 to 15 phone calls per day. We have 75 LEAFs on order through the end of Jan­u­ary, and we’ve prob­a­bly got almost 50 of those already presold.”

Back in 2012, Kamm says, the inter­est in EVs was pro­pelled large­ly by dri­vers who want­ed to lessen their envi­ron­men­tal impact. As the vehi­cles’ rep­u­ta­tion has grown, he says, he sees more inter­est now from cus­tomers who want a low-main­te­nance vehi­cle that’s fun to dri­ve — and that won’t emp­ty their wal­let at the gas pump.

“EVs are so much more a part of the main­stream auto­mo­tive psy­che,” he says. “Peo­ple buy them just because they’re so eco­nom­i­cal to own. There are envi­ron­men­tal ben­e­fits, no doubt — zero tailpipe emis­sions, less reliance on fos­sil fuels — but they’re just all-around great low-main­te­nance, low-cost-of-own­er­ship cars.”

Joining forces

Tynan’s Auto Group is one of four major Col­orado auto deal­ers that in Sep­tem­ber joined Dri­ve Elec­tric Col­orado as found­ing plat­inum spon­sors. Tynan’s joined i25 Kia, Peak Kia and Phil Long Deal­er­ships to take advan­tage of Dri­ve Elec­tric Colorado’s EV edu­ca­tion and resource offer­ings. Dri­ve Elec­tric Col­orado is help­ing to train deal­er­ship sales staff on not only the details of EVs and charg­ing infor­ma­tion, but fed­er­al, state and util­i­ty incen­tives avail­able for buyers.

“Part­ner­ships with auto deal­er­ships through­out the state are a cru­cial step in speed­ing up con­sumer tran­si­tion to EVs,” Trow­bridge says. “We can work togeth­er to increase con­sumer aware­ness and con­fi­dence in the tran­si­tion to EVs and bring groups through­out the indus­try togeth­er for cohe­sive buy­er education.”

It’s an impor­tant step, says Tim Jack­son, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Col­orado Auto Deal­ers Asso­ci­a­tion, as auto man­u­fac­tur­ers con­tin­ue to make EVs a pri­or­i­ty — some, like Vol­vo, have announced plans to phase out com­bus­tion engines alto­geth­er — and as Col­orado con­tin­ues to out­pace most oth­er states in EV adoption.

“We’re track­ing above most oth­er states in imple­men­ta­tion of EVs,” he says. “The mar­ket share of BEVs and PHEVs has grown from 3.6% to 5.8% in just the past year, and the lat­est data shows we’re No. 5 in Amer­i­ca for get­ting EVs on the road.”

This arti­cle is writ­ten by Greg Glas­gow, orig­i­nal­ly post­ed in the Col­orado Biz mag­a­zine. Read the orig­i­nal here. 

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